A CAMPAIGN to protect a butterfly haven from a proposed 2,000-home development has been given new wings.

Environmentalists gathered at the site of the former Huncoat Colliery at the weekend to officially launch their protest and associated petition.

They believe Hyndburn Council’s plans to develop a ‘garden village’ at Huncoat threaten unique and cherished wildlife habitat which is home to 21 different butterflies including the rare white-letter hairstreak and small heath varieties.

The Save Huncoat’s Wildlife Habitat campaign aims to preserve and protect the colliery site for plants, insects and animals, and the online petition already has more than 400 signatures.

Chris Atherton, from Hyndburn Butterfly Project, said: “We’ve found Huncoat Colliery to be one of the best places in Hyndburn for butterflies, wildflowers and other wildlife.

“It’s a wonderful place for local people to go walking and enjoy nature and we think it should be protected and cherished for the future. To build on an area so rich in biodiversity would be heart-breaking.”

Huncoat resident and environmental activist Kerry Gormley, who set up the petition, said: “The launch of the petition coincided with the Remembrance Day for Lost Species, a day when extinct species and biodiversity loss are acknowledged.

“We need to do everything we can to protect the species we have left. more than 400 people have signed the online petition so far, but we need more local people to stand up for Huncoat’s wildlife before it’s too late.”

Hyndburn Council leader Cllr Miles Parkinson said: “We will listen carefully to what these campaigners are saying. Plans are at a very early stage.

“We want Huncoat Garden Village to be a good place to live for butterflies and wildlife as well as people.”